Check-in, January 29th

Last week, Dr. Avis Glaze released her report on the administrative working of our education system. The report, entitled “Raise the Bar: A Coherent and Responsive Education Administration System for Nova Scotia” made a total of 22 recommendations on how our education system can improve.

To say I found the overall tone of the report concerning would be an understatement of rather epic proportions. As I watched the news conferences of last week, first with Dr. Glaze and then with education Minister Zach Churchill, I felt like I was trapped in some sort of educational policy nightmare. The erroneous declaration about the abject failure of our system to educate our students, the cries for higher accountability measures for our teachers, and the absolute “laser like focus” of student achievement (read: more standardized testing) left me, to be quite honest, stunned.

The devil in all this in that I actually find myself agreeing with some of the suggestions from Glaze. Rethinking the Hogg formula, developing a strategy around teacher recruitment and retention, focusing on immigrants families; these are all ideas that I find worthwhile, and some I actually have proposed myself. And, indeed, if these ideas had been brought forward  in isolation, I would be rethinking my stance. However, when laid out beside some of the more contentious issues, including, of course, the removal of administrators from the NSTU, I can find no defensible position of support.

I do know that last year was difficult for some administrators and I do not wish to belittle their struggles. As someone who spent the vast majority of their waking hours last year helping both teachers and principals navigate that time in our history, I feel I can speak with some authority on that. However, I can’t wrap my head around the end justifying the means here. Some of the interactions between administrators and teachers may have been difficult last year, but if principals are removed from the NSTU, then all interactions between the two will tend that way. As well, it will mean that while teachers are still afforded the protection of the union, principals will not be represented. Any member who aspires to enter into a leadership role will do so at their own peril, and will need to rely on the goodwill of the employer to ensure they are treated fairly.

There are many, many issue with this report, to an extent that the integrity of the entire document must be questioned. To think that a series of transformational changes are being considered based on a report that, in several areas, demonstrated a lack of even a basic understanding of how our current system works is actually frightening to me. And as angry as I am about the attack on our union, I am equally incensed, not just as a unionist, but as a parent, that resources will be wasted on pursuing changes that will have no positive impacts on our classrooms. Every dime spent on such politically motivated ideas as the removal of administrators from the NSTU is one less dime to be spent on resources for our kids, or supporting our teachers.

I will continue to keep you updated on the events as they unfold, but so far, I have found out things when you have. I will, however, continue to monitor the situation and will use every avenue at my disposal to express both my concerns and the concerns of the membership to anyone who will listen.

Have a great week County, and as always, reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

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